Easter is traditionally the time of year when there are definite signs of spring. Lambs and chicks are in abundance along with daffodils and primroses. Green shoots are starting to appear and the weather is warming.
We know that Easter occurs in the Christian calendar at the end of Lent which is traditionally a time of fasting and prayer. The Easter celebration commences on Palm Sunday but the start of Easter weekend begins on Maundy Thursday and lasts for three days until Easter Sunday. The Easter season now lasts for 50 days until Pentecost.
Have you ever wondered why the date for Easter changes each year? In 325 the First Council of Nicaea established that Easter should be celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon which follows the Spring Equinox. This means that Easter can range from March 22 to April 25.
Easter is often linked to the Jewish celebration of Passover, probably due to its symbolism and by the fact that it falls around the same time in the calendar.
Easter Eggs form part of the symbolism of Easter for the majority of Children. They are either delivered by the Easter bunny, spread by the bells ringing to celebrate the end of the Easter Sunday mass or searched for in Easter Egg Hunts. Egg rolling is traditional in some areas of Scotland where decorated eggs are rolled down steep hills. In America ‘egg tapping’ is traditional. This is when two egg tips are tapped together. The winner is the one with the intact egg; this goes on until an outright winner is found!
Traditional Easter food includes Simnel cake which is a spiced fruit cake decorated with marzipan, the 11 marzipan balls around the edge of the cake symbolise the 11 faithful apostles. Hot cross buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday. They are spiced fruit bread with crosses marked on the top to symbolise the cross on which Jesus was crucified.
In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, a tradition of spanking is carried out on Easter Monday morning! The men ‘spank’ the women with a special handmade whip or throw cold water on them. The whip is made from willow and decorated with ribbons. It is not intended to cause pain or suffering. Legend tells that a woman should be spanked to ensure that she keeps her beauty for the whole of the coming year. It is also used by some men to exhibit their attraction to a certain woman. The women will then give the men a coloured egg or a small amount of money as a sign of thanks. The women do get a chance of revenge in the afternoon when they can pour cold water over the men!
Food is also prepared, placed in a basket covered with a cloth and taken to the church to be blessed. These often contain ham, bread, eggs and nut bread known as ‘potica’.
In Hungary on the Easter Monday (known as watering Monday), water, perfume or perfumed water is sprinkled in exchange for an Easter egg.
How do you celebrate Easter?
If you have any family traditions please let me know